If You Claim You Liked Paul's Boutique When It First Came Out You're A Fucking Liar

On a long enough timeline, everyone you know will become a liar. At some point, you WILL be lied to by everyone you know.

This will likely happen sooner rather than later if you bring up the subject of music. And if you bring it up with any hipster, showoff, wannabe music expert, the chances of it happening are reduced to within a day of your meeting them. They will, at some point, lie about how quickly they found a band, how early they adopted them, how much they like / hate a band (usually inversely proportionate to the popularity of the band).

Now, if you want to shortcut this timeline to "immediately" all you have to do is bring up Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys.

I cannot tell you how many goddamn times I've had this exact conversation:

"How about the B-boys? You like them?"

Well yeah, of course. They're great (except for the notable blemish of Hello Nasty, which sucked).

"Dude, my favorite Beastie Boys album is Paul's."


"No, seriously, it's like... Genius."

I agree.

"Man... The Dust Brothers, they brought a whole new sound to the game."

No argument there.

"Hey Ladies... Man. Great jam."


"And don't even get me started on the, uh... Whatsitcalled? Cut-and-paste sampling? Anyway, it's genius."


"I got it the week it came out."

Okay, now you're a fucking liar hipster douchebag and I want you to immediately find the nearest pitchfork and fuck yourself with it. 

NO ONE liked Paul's Boutique when it first came out. No one.

The album sold roughly 70,000 copies on its release week. It barely went gold the year it was released. It spent only a few weeks on Billboard's top 200, and it was universally panned by critics and customers alike as being unapproachable, lesser than License To Ill, and a terrible effort from a group who should just slink away with their one hit wonder and never show up again.

I was 12 when it came out in 1989. I didn't know fuck all about quality when it came to records -- I just liked songs that were catchy and fun and had the occasional curse word which would shock my mother. License to Ill was the first CD I ever bought with my own money, and I loved Brass Monkey and Fight For Your Right, just like every kid my age did.

And in 1989, the Beastie Boys were NOWHERE on my (or anyone else's) radar, except the college crowd who heard it on their schools' radio stations -- and even then, it was played ironically.

In the early 90's, after Check Your Head came out, everyone went apeshit over that record. And even then, no one went back to Paul's and called it genius. It was only around 1996 when the Manchester / Bristol UK 'electronica' wave hit, with Moby and Massive Attack kicking everyone's heads in and making even Madonna (with Ray of Light) and U2 (with Pop) pay attention.

All of a sudden, Paul's shone like a beacon from the past. The electronic cut-and-paste production sounded almost current, but it was nearly 8 years too early. Every fucking music retard and their brother piped up and started claiming how into the sound they were, long before everyone else.

Fast-forward to today, when we all know just how high the peak on the musical landscape Paul's was, and you have two generations of hipster-ass need-to-be-first jerks claiming to be "OG B-Boys" and loving Paul's Boutique. And they're full. Of. Shit.

Every time I have the above conversation with someone who wants to claim how into Paul's they were before everyone else, I begin questioning them on what else they were listening to at the time, when it was released, where they heard it first, and so on. And that's not because I'm one of the lucky 70,000 who found it first -- I admit, I slept on Paul's until my friend Mike forced me to listen to it in 12th grade (and even then, I didn't like it very much -- which of course is not the case now). He was one of the first 70,000, because Mike was born being ahead of everyone on every curve. He turned me onto Helmet before anyone else knew who they were.

The thing is, no one can really hold up to the interrogation. At some point, they flub some point of data, with the vast majority saying it was released in the 90s -- I've even had people claim it came after Check Your Head, and even a few who said it was after Ill Communication. And I've gone an exhausting 10 rounds with kids as young as 19 who want to claim they had that album the day it came out... Which would make them -3 when they bought it.

They weren't even an embryo.

Let this serve as your warning: I don't care if you're with your girlfriend and want to impress her; I don't care if you are the only girl in your gaggle of girlfriends who listens to "old school"; I don't care what radio station you claim to have worked at "in the 90's" -- If you claim to be an original Paul's Boutique fan, you had better come to me with a receipt from 1989 proving it.

Anything else, and you're just looking for a fist to put your face in.


Fuck You, Baltimore! (Not Really, But I'm Coming This Weekend)

So, Jeremy and I, along with the Art of Akira Exhibit, are Baltimore-bound this weekend for Otakon! And it makes me think of this classic:

(can't see the video? Click here)

Outside of challenge pissing, we will be basically sitting around Baltimore. Because we're not from there, and don't really know much of what to do there. So we'll be looking for you locals to enterain us (and I'm looking at about 15 of you). Email me and let me know if you want to hang out and whatnots and whatever.

Now, I've done some business, so it's on to the fun. And the fun today? I'M NOT SURE. Because I haven't really been doing much in the way of fun lately. Mostly I've been working. And some of the work is fun, yes. But I can't talk about it just now, because it's SUPER SECRET.

But what's not SUPER SECRET is that the most wonderful Stephanie Buscema has agreed to do the cover to my new (and third and final Mentally Incontient) book! And it's going to be so wonderful and amazing! How do I know? Because it's Stephanie Freakin' Buscema, and she's amazing. Did you know I got a tattoo of a drawing she did for me? It's true. It's her take on Major Kusanagi. And it's pretty fab.

Speaking of, I've had to push back the date on the book a bit, which means I've had to push back the date on announcing it. But I can tell you that I'm shooting for the 2nd week in October for release, and the first of September for announcing it (I'll be "announcing" it at DragonCon, which will be met with a rousing "meh").  But you guys will hear about it first. Mostly cause I love you most.

Let's see... Hm. That's really it. There will be more to talk about in the coming weeks, but a lot of what I'm working on right now is in the "working on it right now" phase. There's nothing really to show or discuss, outside of the fact that it's happening. But hey, if you find that kind of status update interesting, by all means, read the next sentence:

I'm working on a lot of things.

And if you don't like that kind of status update, well... You knew what you were getting into when you read this. You have no one to blame but yourself.

Lastly, I look forward to letters! A lot of you have mentioned that you're going to send me letters. This is VERY exciting! And of course, it's going to mean a lot of "I'm sorry, seriously, your letter IS coming, I promise, I just got so behind on blah blah blah" excuses to people. But I'm going to try (TRY!) to not let that happen. I'm going to do my best to answer letters as they come in, instead of letting them stack up and become a Thing.


I Miss Writing Letters

When I was a kid (and a teenager), I used to have penpals. There were about 20 or so that I corresponded with at least once a year, but there were four that I regularly exchanged letters with. My first and longest penpal was from France and was named Sabine. She was my age, and sent me French trinkets and postcards all the time, and sent her the silly comics I'd draw. And as the years went by and communication methods evolved, we moved from letters to email, with disasterious results.

Something was just... different. And after about three months of trying to move our penpal relationship online, it fizzled.

There was just something about the instant nature of correspondence that just never quite matched up to the fun and exciting anticipation of getting those red, white and blue envelopes marked "Par Avion", and I imagine it was the same with her, receiving silly business-sized envelopes with upside-down American flag stamps and handdrawn cartoons on the back. And as it was, quite a few of my other penpal relationships floundered and fell off during the transition to digital. And I'm only slightly ashamed to admit; most of the reason why is because I just quit writing.

Email was faster. IM? Even faster. Speed overtook craft and anticipation as prime motivations behind my method of communicating with people. And eventually, the notion of writing a letter became even less than quaint. I pretty much considered it silly. And now in 2011, I can meet new friends and know their entire life's history (or as much as they choose to share) just by friending them on Twitter or Facebook or Google Plus. There's just no reason to exchange letters anymore. Mail is going the way of the telegraph.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. I emailed the proprietor of one of my absolute favorite sites. Her name is Debbie, and she runs That Girl, a Tumblr log that curates some of the most inspirational pictures, quotes and videos I've ever seen in one place (notable runners up: Merri's Creative Problem SolvingMagnificent Ruin and This Isn't Happiness).

I found her through a recommendation from a friend, and since then, she's set my morning right every single day for a little over two years. Hers is the first site I read the moment I open my browser during morning coffee and Pop Tarts. When I go away from the internet for a while, I return to a slight tingle of anticiaption of reading the hundreds of items that have stacked up on her blog, just waiting to be enjoyed moment by moment.

And you'd think that, after a few months of reading inspirational stuff, I'd do what I absolutlely insist readers of my books and blog do, which is contact the author. But no. I'm actually very shy, believe it or not. At least, when it comes to creators and curators of content I love.

But for some reason, a few weeks ago (and now that I think on it, it was actually a few months ago, shortly after my long internet and work hiatus... That's how much time I've lost track of), I was moved to let Debbie know just how much I appreciated what she does and how much light it brings to the dim haze of each waking morning (and how it had for more than two years). And she was very kind in her reply, and it was a neat internet-person-I-read-and-like-wasn't-a-jerk moment.

So, being that I'm someone who likes to share, I asked if I could mail her copies of my book, and she was very nice to say "yes." I'm guessing more than one table in her house needs leveling. Either that, or it gets really cold in Chicago and she's still using a fireplace to keep warm. Regardless, books were placed in envelopes and they were sent.

And for some reason that I THINK is because of the kind of stuff she posts, I thought "You know what? I haven't written a letter in a long, long time. So I think I'll do that." And I did. And it was very fun.

I know, right? Fun? What makes the act of taking four times longer to generate a page of words "fun?" But it was. And I think it's probably the same reason why I've loved returning to the drawing table to do website layouts and draw elements before I work on them in Photoshop, and why I really miss hand-writing my journal. There's something immensely satisfying about creating something physical.

It's the human element of creation. The tiny imperfections; the noted attempts to improve something on the page. It's also the effort put into creating a thing which makes it worth so much more than something using efficiency as its primary motivation. And as I was writing that letter (which was pretty much just one page about itself -- the very meta letter about writing a letter), something clicked in me that made me want to get back to analog methods of communication, if for no other reason than I miss it.

So, here's what's up: if you're interested in a little post-digital-era experimentation with returning to some analog awesomeness, write me a letter and I'll write you one.

My address:


The rules:

1) Postcards are nice. I get a LOT of postcards. I welcome postcards, anytime. But this is about letters. If you send a postcard, expect a nice thank you! But not a letter. A letter gets a letter, nothing less.

2) No dead bugs or bombs in the envelope, please.

That's really it. I'll go on to say that I make absolutely no guarantees in regards to quality of content, length, timliness or penmanship, except to say that I'll promise at least one page to anyone who writes me at least one page.


Tattoos = Ex-Con (Or, Yet Another Joe-On-An-Airplane Story)

So you know how I was all kinds of annoyed that nothing happened to me at the airport or on the airplane on Monday? Well, Wednesday totally made up for that.

On my flight home from LA, I was in the very back row, on the aisle, and a family boarded. The mother and daughter took the two seats next to me (window and middle), and the father sat in a middle seat further up the row. So, being the gentleman I am, I asked the flight attendant if there were any open aisle seats near the front.

LO! And behold, there was. So, I gave the father my seat so he could be next to his kin (and he was very thankful!) and moved on up, to a seat next to an older woman and someone I assume was her daughter. And as I sat down, I heard them discussing the various celebrities in their shared copy of People magazine:

"Oh, she's MUCH prettier than Lady Gaga," said the younger woman.

"Yes, much... She's slimmer," said the older one.

It was then that I knew, this would be nowhere near as fun as my trip to LA. And sometime shorly after I tweeted the above conversation, I caught in the corner of my eye the elder woman looking me up and down, then holding a newspaper to her face and leaning toward her daughter:

And it wasn't very hard to make out what she was whispering:

"He must be an ex-con, with all the tattoos..."

She kept whispering about how uncomfortable she felt sitting next to me. So I snapped the above pic and Tweeted, Facebooked and GooglePlussed it. Because I'm social, is why. Plus, I think everyone knows by now, the second I mention I'm anywhere NEAR an airport, they tune right in and just wait for the hijinks to ensue.

Later on in the during the flight, she gave me a weird look when I pulled out my laptop, like "What are YOU doing with a laptop, you convict?" I assume that's what it was like anyway, since it was hard to  understand the noises her face was making as her overly-made-up skin stretched and groaned against its own wrinkles to make that face.

Later on, she mustered up the courage (or, became so unbelievably bored she had no other alternative but) to ask me what the hell I'm all about.

"So, what do you do?" she asked.

"I'm a writer," I responded as I finished typing a sentence, then looked at her.

"Oh!" she said, nodding. It was like she was allowing for the idea that convicts AND writer-types could have tattoos. She then asked, "So, what do you write?"

Without batting an eye, I looked right at her and said "My time in prison."

The look on her face was priceless. It was like I'd just peed on her cat; she was so disgusted and taken aback. Of course, I had to Tweet, Facebook and GooglePlus that too, much to the delight of a LOT of people.

Not much happened after that. She shrunk away from me and leaned toward her daughter to say something, but I couldn't hear what (not that I much cared at this point). A bit later, she decided to reach out again and be kind. She asked me if I wanted her Biscoff cookies.

"No thanks, sugar interferes with my medication," I answered.

It took her a little while, but eventually she asked "So what are you on medication for?"

"HIV," I answered plainly.

You could have cut her head off and used her gaze to peel the paint off a car, she was that horrified by my answer. But the internet was delighted.

Shortly thereafter, I confessed that I'd actually overheard her talking about my tattoos earlier and wanted to just have a little fun with her; that I was 100% healthy and had never been to prison. And she didn't really take that as a joke. She was angry. She didn't say another word, to me or anyone, the rest of the flight.

I had to let her off the hook. I couln't just let her suffer thinking that the guy next to her was one aluminum can accident away from giving her THE AIDS. Or maybe I could have... But I just don't have the heart for it. But, maybe next time, she will think twice before jumping to conclusions about someone based soley on their appearance... Or maybe she won't. Maybe this actually justified the idea that tattooed freaks are actually liars and terrible people.



Proving How Easy It Is To Write A Short Story To Complete Strangers

There's "Third World Problems" (like hunger), and there's "First World Problems" (like Starbucks getting your order wrong).

And then there's "Oh Man, Nothing Annoying Happened At The Airport For Me To Blog About."

I boarded my flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles yesterday in a bit of a huff. You see, absolutely NOTHING worth blogging, Tweeting or Facebooking (or G+'ing? Is that a thing now?) about happened.

I KNOW, RIGHT? It's not like me to go to an airport and not end up with at least a tweet or a status update, much less a blog entry. But no. No fist fights. No delays. No TSA mishaps. Everything went smoothly. I even ended up in an aisle exit row seat.

Annoying, in a way that is so utterly frustrating to the rest of the world, I know. But that's where I was when I sat down next to a very nice Georgia Tech student named Allie. And after getting through that part of the flight where you make a little off-hand comment to gauge if the person next to you is a total prick or alright or, maybe (just maybe) actually cool, we both determined we were both pretty cool. So we talked, and it was nice.

I found out that she's a Mechanical Engineering student (read: way smarter than me, and statistically speaking, you) and utterly addicted to Biscoff cookies. She found out that I'm a professional pain in the ass and write things for a living, at which time, she explained she could "never do that."

"What?" I asked.

"Write something," she replied. Which of course I believe to be complete bullshit, since everyone can pick up a pen and some paper and get to wordsmithing. But she insisted she couldn't.

"It's really easy," I said.

"Show me then," she said, with a slight "THIS'LL SHOW YOU!" smirk.

So, I proceeded to jot out a short story right in front of her. It took about seven minutes (I type really, really fast -- just ask anyone with the unfortunate luck of being on my chat / IM lists). It's quite silly and makes no sense. But there it was, proof that it just takes a bit of a head of steam and the method by which to put words somewhere to write a story.

Here, in its complete unedited form, is the story I wrote:

So, there I was... Carrying on luggage because the TSA has mandated that checking a bag become a month-long process. All of a sudden, I saw her -- NATALIE PORTMAN. She was sitting in coach -- that was a surprise. But hey, she was there, and now I was there, and how could I not want to talk to her?

Well, it was really easy. I just didn’t. Cause she’s NATALIE PORTMAN. And what do you say to Natalie Portman on an airplane? “HI?” “I Liked you in Leon?” No. You just leave that person alone. She’s all famousy and stuff; you don’t want to make a bad impression. Or maybe you do. I don’t know you. You’re a stranger. I shouldn’t even be talking to you.

So I put my bags in the overhead and sat down all nonchalantly, and pretended that right there beside me wasn’t Natalie Portman. It was difficult, mostly because she actually was right beside me, and reality sometimes makes my brain hurt.

“Hi,” she said.

“Uh...” I said. Really, that was it. That was what came out of my mouth. That’s why I wrote it here. Why do you judge me so harshly? I’m not very good at this writing thing. You know this. It’s your fault for even reading it.

“Travel much?” she asked.

“Not as much as you!” I said just a little too excitedly. I was trying to be funny (trying being the operative word). Then, to take some of the sting out of my overly-sharp joke, I added “Probably.”


“Yeah, it’s part of the job,” said she. “So is sitting next to oversized tattooed freaks.”

“Yep, I’m always sitting with one when I travel,” I replied.

She laughed. And that’s how I met Natalie Portman and became her poolboy.

Wait, did I just skip too far ahead there? You see, I’m not really attracted to Hollywood types, outside of what they do on the screen. And if you’re even slightly smart, you realize -- that’s not them. Not really, anyway. But you end up building some sort of bond with these people nonetheless. That’s the point, I believe. They act, you believe. Once you believe, you’ve taken the leap beyond “stranger” and into their little world.

And when I saw Black Swan, I was so totally in her little world (even if it was a ripoff of Perfect Blue). And I realized then, I wanted to know Natalie Portman. But I didn’t want a romance or even a friendship -- how can you ever be actual friends with an actress? They pretend to feel stuff for a living, after all. How can you ever truly know if they forgive you for dropping an egg on the kitchen floor or wrecking their Mazaratti? 

You can’t, that’s how. But it’s really, really difficult to fake being pleased about the cleanliness of your pool. And that’s why being Natalie Portman’s poolboy was the perfect solution -- I get to have a friendly, mutually beneficial relationship with one of my favorite actresses. I get early access to her films (and her pool); she gets her pool cleaned (and occasionally laughs at overwraught, horribly timed jokes).

Win-Win, right?

So, during the flight, I kept things casual, you know? Just light banter. And inevitably I asked her why the heck she was flying in coach on a Delta flight, instead of on a private jet or some such.

“Well, sometimes I just like to keep it real, you know?” she said. “Be among the people. Remind myself of normal... Okay, just kidding, my jet broke down last week and I really need to get home.”

I gave her a queer look. “But in coach?”

“Well, I’m kinda cheap, honestly,” she replied. “But I did spring for this exit row seat.”

“Hrm,” I said aloud. “Well, there goes that idea...”

“What idea?” she asked.

“Well, I was going to ask if you needed a poolboy.”

“Hm...” she said. “What’s your rate?”

“Well you’re cheap, and I’m really only interested in discussing your own films with you... So I guess my payment would be your patience while discussing your work, and possibly a co-dependent relationship where you depend on me for opinions on technological purchases, music, and football teams.”

She thought for a second. “Done,” she said. She extended her hand.

I shook it.

And that, my friends, was that.

There you go. Proof of two very obvious things: 1) writing short stories isn't that hard, and 2) I'm probably not right in the head.

But that's what boredom and lack of disastrous intrusions into my life and schedule do to me. They take my focus off of being entertainingly angry and allow me to concoct ridiculous poolboy fantasies for celebrities. But the upshot is that, due to Allie's addiction to Biscoff cookies, I ended up with a second pack myself, and them motherfuckers was tasty and shit.

(I only added that last bit because I suddenly became aware that this was about to be the first blog post in months without profanity. Can't let that happen)


The Domino's Pizza Ninja Drawing Saga

If you don't follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ (and really, guys... You should be by now, I link to it enough, and it's probably the best use of 3 minutes a day you could possibly find -- I'm horribly entertaining... in that I'm horrible at being entertaining. But there's a certain schadenfreude in it all. You can laugh at my attempts and feel superior), you missed The Domino's Pizza Ninja Saga.

And what, pray tell, is this saga? Well, this video pretty much sums it right up:

(can't see the video? Click here and stuff)

For those of you who just can't stand the sound of my voice, or hate looking at my face, or just hate video in general (Really? You exist? What's wrong with you? Video is awesome, you freak), the story goes like this:

Mike and I got hungry, and a commercial for Domino's Pizza came on (while we were watching The Incredible Hulk [Ed Norton version] -- we figured we'd just add to the misery). So we ordered from them.

Now, before even trying this newly formulated pizza configuration, I have to compliment Domino's on one hell of a great website. The ordering interface is quite brilliant, and being able to "track" your pizza's progress as it goes from ingredients to baked to your door is great, as is the method by which you do this: The Pizza Tracker. And what's cool about it is that you can choose a Heavy Metal themed tracker, or a Cheerleader themed tracker, which periodically erupts in chants and yelling about what's going on with your pie.

Somewhere along the way, they ask you if you have any special instructions. So I wrote "Draw a ninja on the box, please."

Lo! And behold, they did:

I KNOW RIGHT?!? It's awesome!

But, there's a problem. If it were a REAL ninja, you'd never see it. Which is why I called Domino's and complained. Which is what that video up there is all about. Which is why you're sad now, because you're a weirdo who doesn't want to watch videos. Which is queer.

In other news, I'm actively trying to bring back "queer" as a term for "strange". Because I hate bigotry. I'm a PROGRESSIVE.


If You're Reading This, You Already Know What It's About (I Redesigned My Blog!)

Keen-eyed blog readers noticed some downtime on the blog a few days ago. The reason: I fucked up and the blog went down. Easy, huh?

But the reason I fucked up was I was mid-way through a redesign of this blog, and accidentally published a change I didn't mean to publish, which tipped my hand -- CHANGES WERE AFOOT. And some of you figured it out. Ya'll some observant folk.

So, whatcha think? Wait -- first, are you even on my blog site right now, or are you reading this via RSS / Facebook Note / Livejournal? Well, if you're not there, go there now (but if you're here already, clicking that link is just going to bring you back here and you're going to feel silly. So don't click it. Of course, I'm putting this AFTER the link, which means it might be too late -- you might have missed it because you clicked it first without knowing what this whole line was about. In which case... Well, you're here now, and hopefully you didn't click it AGAIN, cause that's just going to put you in this insane infinite loop).

Now then -- whatcha think? It's a fresh new look, but without changing the overall feel. Sure, I could have gone and put some huge splash image in the background or spice things up with tons of icons and curved borders and whatever, but I hate that crap. Everyone does that on their blog. When you read me here, I'd rather you READ me here, not be marginally impressed by my choice of elements I copied and pasted from jQuery tutorials and free icon stock sites.

The major changes:

- MOBILE! This blog is now 100% iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, Palm Pre and Blackberry (modern) friendly.
- New comment system. I've started using Disqus for commenting, which will unify all the linkbacks and comments and whatnot, and allow you guys to post comments as yourself using Facebook, Google and Twitter logins. It makes sharing less clunky (provided you want to share my crap) and allows for threaded comments, so discussions inside of discussions actually make sense now.
- MUCH better archive navigation. You can now dig through the ancient history of my silly nonsense in a much easier way.
- Better search -- been wondering where the hell to find that one article where I rip on (religion / politics / Big Bang Theory)? Now you can find it!
- Cleaner look. You guys know how I like clean looks. They're clean. What does clean mean? Whatever the fuck I want it to.


Watch Me Talk For An Hour About Principles Of User Satisfaction In Website Redesign Practices And It's Not Like You're Actually Still Reading This Title So Why Am I Still Typing

So this past April, at Notacon 8, I gave a talk called "You'll Get Over It -- How NOT To Redesign Fark.com". It went over the mistakes we made in 2007, and how we're avoiding those mistakes in 2011.

It further goes into how much of an egotistical prick I was when I came on board at Fark, how the backlash on the redesign humbled me, and how stupid Gizmodo, TechCrunch and Digg are (and why). Plus, I make a lot of jokes and say a lot of curse words. For an hour.

What's not to love?

(Can't see the video? Click here)



I TOTALLY Want To Be A Santa Now

So, there I was, going through my emails sorting through who hates what I write and who kinda likes it and who has issues with stuff with projects I work on and whatever. And then there it was -- an email which changed my life forever, for those few minutes before I decided to write this blog post anyway.

As you can see from the subject, I want to be a Santa now. And the reason I want to be a Santa now is because of this offer I received from one Heather Madison, from Thumbtack (and what is Thumbtack? Why, it's the people who are going to make me a Santa!), offering to begin sending me tons and tons of clients for my newfound career!

(I've left the links in, but made them nofollow -- I don't want them to get any SEO crap from me, but I think it's worthwhile to all of you who want to become santas to have the links to this fantastic and, frankly, utterly AMAZING offer)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Are you a santa?
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2011 10:08:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: Heather Madison
Reply-To: heather@thumbtack.com
To: [my email address which you should already know]

Hey there,

I'm reaching out to you because
Thumbtack is getting a lot of job leads for santas, and I'm looking for another santa who is interested in taking on more clients.

After checking out your website I think you are a great fit for Thumbtack and
I'd love to start sending you job leads. Please fill out a few details about your skills and rates, and I'll start forwarding you potential new clients.

If you have any questions about what Thumbtack can provide, please don't hesitate to ask.


Do you see??? DO YOU SEE how she bolded the part about how she'd love to start sending me job leads? I mean, this Santa thing is practically in the fucking bag here, folks! It's so in the bag, I could go on to make a Santa pun and say it's in a big red bag! And it's a present! TO ME!

Now, who are these clients that Heather from Thumbtack is going to send me? I'm not sure! Are they children? If so, that's creepy and I want no part of this horrific pedophilia ring! 

But if it's malls and shopping centers and backwoods Georgia holiday fairs, well color me red and call me Jolly! Because if there's one thing I love more than Chinese fast food from mall foodcourts, it's funnel cakes! 

FUNNEL CAKES, YOU GUYS! And probably for free, because hey, I'd be motherfucking SANTA. No one doesn't give Santa free shit, because they might end up on the bad list!

I'm totally going to be a Santa. I encourage all of you to do the same. Or you're on my naughty list. Unless you give me a funnel cake. In which case, well... I'll get you a toy from the series you want, but not the specific figure you asked for. So either be a Santa and get me a funnel cake, or you get Dial Tone and Ratchet instead of Snake Eyes and Optimus Prime. Capice?


My First Real No Kidding Comic Script

So hey, guess what -- I completed something this weekend I've not been able to do my entire life. Literally.

I actually finished a script for a 10 page comic. A fully formatted, properly-written script. For a (soon to be) penciled, inked and lettered comic. By me.

Why is this a big deal, right? What the hell, Joe? Why couldn't you just, you know... Write a script at some point? Why an entire blog post about the fact you did it? Well, it's kind of a long story. But the bottom line is that there is one thing that I've wanted to do all my life -- write and draw comics. And when I was 12, I started doing just that. They were terrible, for sure -- horribly out-of-proportion versions of Wolverine and Punisher on college-ruled notebook paper doing not much else besides fighting. But eventually they moved to typing paper, then to bristol board. And when I was 19, I wasn't much further along than when I was 12, but was seriously considering using my web career to advance my ability to do comics.

But all along, I got very little support. And before I was 12, I was 10 -- which is when my mother married the man who would eventually adopt me and support me and give me the first real freedom to do stuff I wanted to do (even though he didn't really understand it). And before I was 10, I was a child who had a brother and a birth father who constantly and consistently convinced him that drawing (and all artistic endeavors) were things "fags" did. And that I'd never be much of anything at them, and to give up.

But I didn't really. I got really obstinate. And through Junior High and High School, I just said "fuck you all" and did what I wanted to. And when I quit college and did website crap, some really crazy things happened in my life and someone I cared a lot about basically told me I should give up on anything artistic, that I'd never make it, and my attempts at doing so were a joke.

I stopped drawing pretty much completely. And that sucks. I shouldn't have let that happen to me. But I did. And I found surrogates for doing comics -- layouts for websites, writing books, doing blogs, etcetera. But nothing ever really scratched that itch of doing comics.

Then last December, I just decided to stop letting voices from the past control the present and get back to the drawing board, thanks to the "Pay what you want" sketch project (which is still going, by the way, if you want one -- and I'm really behind on some from months ago, if  I owe you one, please email me!!! I'm powering through the backlog and don't want to miss yours!) and your support, I started drawing again.

And so, now I'm writing comics, thanks to a HUGE amount of encouragement from some really great friends in the industry. My first assignment, from none other than the amazing Jason Pearson, was to write a 10-page script capturing a moment. That's really it -- any moment I wanted, but it had to be a complete moment and fit in 10 pages. And it could only feature one action per panel, meaning one bit of activity. It had to show -- not tell -- action. Dialog is to be kept to a minimum. No narration.

You have no idea how hard it is for a prose / novel / long-form writer (with a paralyzing fear of writing comics because it's the one thing he's always wanted to do his whole life and he's utterly afraid he'll suck at it) to do that. It was hard. And by hard, I mean it took me 8 drafts before I finally had the courage to finally turn it over to Jason.

And last Friday, I did. And I am immensely proud of that fact.

Next step is to do the layouts, then pencil it, then ink and letter it. Then put the sucker out.

If you want to wait until then to read it (and I really do hope you will), then don't click this link. It goes to the script, which you can read and give me feedback on if you like. But if you do read it, be aware -- I do know there's a little bit of sloppiness in the formatting (I'm still learning how the mechanics of a script are done), and it probably needs some help. But hey, it's good enough for me to feel like I've done it.

But being honest, I do hope you'll wait until it's drawn before you read it.


Just Because

Just because you feel it, doesn't mean it's how things are.

Just because you're hurting, doesn't mean you're wounded.

Just because you say it, doesn't mean that you mean it.

Just because you heard it, doesn't mean you understand it.

Just because you know it, doesn't mean you've accepted it.

Just because you've accepted it, doesn't mean it's okay, right, correct or how things should be.

Life doesn't work in absolutes. Period. There is no such thing as black and white, right or wrong, good or bad. There's how you feel about things and that's pretty much it. We're predisposed to reject pain and accept pleasure. That's our basis for determining right, wrong, good, bad, black, white.

Sometimes, you're supposed to get hurt. Sometimes, you're supposed to take a shot right to the jaw. One you never saw coming. You're supposed to know what that feels like, so you can know how to recover from it, and how to look for it next time.

That's what makes you stronger. Smarter. Whole.

Metamorphisis is painful. Just because it hurts, doesn't mean it's not a good thing. Let go of preconceptions of good and bad and accept that pain simply reminds you of how good pleasure can feel and vice versa. You will say things you don't mean to reject pain. You will pretend you've accepted things to just move past them and stop having to deal with them. You will languish in periods of pleasure and let things that cause pain slide or go without addressing them.

Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not there. And just because it's there doesn't mean you have to go seek it out and face it. When you get hit, accept that you got hit... And then don't get hit the same way again.


The Evolution Of A Workspace

So, as you know (or should know, if you read anything I've written the past month or so), I've been a member of Studio Revolver in Atlanta for a bit over a month now. And it's been a fantastic month. I've gotten quite a lot of work done, and learned a tremendous amount about the behind-the-scenes aspects of what goes into the process of making comics. I've been learning a good bit since befriending a bunch of comic book professionals the past year, but this month has been one of the most eye-opening in terms of finding out just what goes on. 

And what goes on? A lot of work. And by a lot, I mean a LOT. But it's also a lot of fun. I've been tasked by the great Jason Pearson (see his Facebook page and like it if you, you know... Like it) to write a script for a story this week (well, truth be told, last week -- but a lot of stuff came up, like me being a total fucking chicken and putting it off). It's been hard. I have tried my hand at writing comics before, and gave up before I even started. But he's not letting me stop. So, maybe there's a comic by me in your immediate future. 

But before I really got started, I had to move in. And if you read me on Facebook and Twitter, you got to see some pics of the evolution of the space I've taken up at Revolver. Here's a nice photo timeline:

This was the genesis. Before this space was deemed mine, I worked out of Casey Edwards's office. This space was comprised entirely of borrowed furniture. I only sat at my desk for an hour or so at a time, because folding chairs suck. 

Then, I added a few toys. Just a bit of panache. 

Finally, my month probation was up, and I was able to move in. This is my new Ikea L-desk and my incredible Alvin Workmate desk that I got for $75 on Craigslist, as well as a jug of tea that Tony Harris mistaked for a jug of urine. Because I'm prone to carry my own urine around in gallon containers all willy-nilly, I suppose. You can also see that I moved my partition out a bit to get some sunlight back there.

Finally got some art on the walls a few days ago. It was about time, I was sick of the bareness and starkness and whateverness. Dig the amazing Art of Akira prints on the left wall by amazing artists, from left to right: Tariq Hassan, John Tyler Christopher, Mark Brooks. On the facing wall is an original Akira poster from the Marvel / Epic run of the manga, and next to that, the original Major Kusanagi painting that the absolutely wonderful Stephanie Buscema did for me (that I also had tattooed on my right bicep)

And finally, the space as it is today (because this was taken today) -- the Wacom Cintiq and my Mac Pro finally move in. Now, I can work. And I did -- a lot. 

...But not nearly enough, honestly. I'm so far behind on stuff due to all the craziness from the last month and some days. But I'm catching up -- and that's part of why moving into Studio Revolver is such a wonderful thing. I'm in a place that's positive, with a strong talented support base who helps motivate me and pushes me along. And I get to help them as well. It's a big family. 

I'm pretty happy.